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The 364 Day Calendar

Date
Jan 1, 2021
Status
Published
Topic
Systems & Creativity
Length
4 min

Resetting our calendar to a new year always reminds me of the 13-Month Roman Calendar. There was a failed revolution by Kodak in the 1920's to overthrow the 365 day calendar in favor of a 364 day calendar. Kodak's founder George Eastman pushed Kodak to this new system in 1929, and the company was on it until 1989. All their employees had to learn this new calendar and use it internally.

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"A month is a wholly irrational division of time. It has no relation to anything in astronomy, or human experience. It is an inaccurate and varying measure of time that is a constant annoyance in business and a misleading unit in science. It has no religious significance. A month is nothing but just a bad habit."

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Each month was exactly 4 weeks of 7 days, leading to 13 months of 28 days (adding up to 364 days). New Years Day exists as it's own standalone day, without a date, and outside of the Sunday to Saturday loop. On leap years, there was a full "weekend" that existed in limbo. In a society where this calendar was fully adopted, I imagine these limbo days to be associated with heavy partying, substance abuse, and lawlessness.

The advantage of this system is if someone says, "are you free to meet on the 12th next month?" everyone would know that person is referring to a Thursday. Christmas is always on a Wednesday, and every month has a Friday the 13th. It would put the cat calendar manufacturers out of business, since people would only ever need to own a single 364 day calendar. The calendar lobbyists would never allow this to happen, but Kodak didn't care.

Kodak attempted to bring their clients and others onto this standard. There was a lot of interest, but the main objection was that quarter-year and half-year subdivisions fell at random dates in this system.

The 1,000 day calendar

Ever since my brother congratulated me on being 10,000 days old, I'd been interested in the period of 1,000 days as a unit of time to measure your life. I worked backwards to figure out where I was at each 1,000 days of my life. I never felt different from year to year, but looking back, every 2.73 years was a distinct phase of my life. It also seemed that an event or a seed from one phase would grow to end up defining a way of life in the next phase.

7k seed, transferred from business to architecture school

7k, early college, an obsessed architecture student

8k seed - listened to Terrence McKenna within architecture studio

8k, late college, Thesis on building design for psychedelic therapy

9k seed - looked into gaming engines to visualize my thesis

9k, post college - Started a VR company to visualize new construction

The thought between 10k and 11k days was to devise my own calendar system based on intervals of 1,000-day epics. An epic had eight 125-day chapters, which each had 8 25 day sprints. It was a strange metric system with my birth at the origin. The idea was if you set intentions using these intervals, as well as detect patterns and accelerate them, then it could be more valuable in shifting your life situation than the standard New Years Resolutions.

In the end, trying to use this system for a few years never really had the benefits I'd hoped. I found that the interval I was using wasn't the root of my issue. It just added some unnecessary overhead (which I'm sure Kodak employees felt). If I could learn how to prioritize, keep habits, finish things, and publish more frequently - those would take me further, regardless of a future vision, and regardless of what interval system I'm on.

Core habits (release cycles) for 2021:

  • Publish an essay every week day (5x per week - 250+ per year)
  • Publish a song every week (1x per week = 50 per year)
  • Publish a 3D model in VR every month (1x per month = 12 per year)

So while the 1,000 day unit system doesn't work at a micro scale, I think it's still interesting and low-friction at a macro scale.

I have a calendar event set for the day I turn 12,000 days, which is in early 2023. I'll go somewhere isolated for the weekend, reflect on the last 2.73 years, and look for the seeds that might define my next phase.

The idea here is that you are intentionally setting an interval that you want to make big life decisions. This seemed to be a naturally occurring rhythm before I was even aware of it, so it makes sense to reflect at this same interval. It prevents you from iterating too fast without giving something a fair shot, and it also prevents you from getting too comfortable. Projecting old patterns forward is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but potentially a useful one. It gives you permission to make radical choices while mitigating some of the risk.

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Michael Dean

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